The Silent Night Chapel is located about 20 km north of Salzburg in the village of Oberndorf, where it stands in place of the former St. Nicholas Church. It is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Mohr and composer, Franz Xaver Gruber. It marks the place where the beloved Christmas carol “Silent Night” was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818. From a small parish church in Tyrol, this simple Christmas carol conquered the world. In 1914 it was known as Friedenslied im Schützengraben (Song of peace in the trenches)
The Silent Night Chapel itself was designed by architect Josef Dietzinger. Construction spanned some 13 years between groundbreaking ceremonies in 1924 and formal dedication in 1937. The chapel’s foundation was completed in 1928, the stained-glass windows donated and installed in 1935, the altar in 1936. The finished chapel was dedicated on August 15, 1937. Each year about 150,000 people from all over the world visit the Stille-Nacht-Kapelle in Oberndorf.
Two stained-glass windows in the Stille-Nacht-Kapelle in Oberndorf bei Salzburg honor the carol’s creators. According to the inscription seen at the bottom right of the Mohr window, it was donated to the chapel by the Ostmärkischer Sängerbund (choir) of Vienna in 1935. The top half of the window shows “Vikar Josef Mohr” gazing upward, quill in hand. In the lower half we see an image of the now-demolished parish church (Pfarrkirche) in which Mohr’s lyrics were first sung in 1818.
Window Text in German and English
“Vikar Josef Mohr schuf hier den Text des Liedes.
Stille Nacht / heilige Nacht
Hier stand die alte Pfarrkirche in welcher das Lied 1818 das erstemal zur Christmette gesungen wurde.
Stifter: Ostmärkischer Sängerbund, Wien 1935.”
“Here curate Josef Mohr created the song’s lyrics.
Silent Night / Holy Night
Here stood the former parish church in which the song was sung for the first time during Christmas mass in 1818.
Donor: Ostmärkischer Sängerbund (choir), Vienna 1935.”
Both windows were fabricated in Innsbruck by the Tyrolean Stained Glass Institute (Tiroler Glasmalereianstalt). The Gruber window was donated by the Wiener Schubertbund, or Schubert Association of Vienna, also in 1935.
The exterior of Stille-Nacht-Kapelle
The interior of Stille-Nacht-Kapelle